(OTTAWA) On the occasion of Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal’s visit to Canada this week, Canadian businesses are hoping the two countries will commit to signing a trade deal this year, after more than a decade of talks.
“It seems like a no-brainer to me,” said Goldy Hyder, CEO of the Business Council of Canada. We must have the ability to demonstrate that democracies can work for business. »
Minister Goyal is due to meet his Canadian counterpart, Mary Ng, at an event Monday in Ottawa, before joining a delegation of major Indian companies Tuesday in Toronto.
In an interview, Hyder said he hoped the two countries would agree to reach a trade deal this year, as multiple negotiations have been ongoing since 2010 and election cycles could further prolong those talks.
He notes that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading for an election the following spring. Trudeau is also governing with a minority, meaning the Liberals could face an election if they lose a vote of confidence.
Hyder hopes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be ready to sign a trade deal before or during his planned visit to New Delhi in September for the G20 leaders’ summit.
In November, the Liberals identified India as a key partner in their Indo-Pacific strategy, which calls for more economic and security ties with countries in the region as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence.
The Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, a trade and technology analysis body, says India could benefit from importing more Canadian crops, chemicals, wood products and minerals, while a trade deal would make Ottawa more economically resilient to U.S.-China conflict.
“Over the years, Canada has secured a relatively small share of India’s rapidly growing market,” read a report released last fall by analyst Pia Silvia Rozario. The current trade relationship is still below its full potential. »
Hyder also thinks the Liberals would make more progress with India if they relaxed their approach to fairness in trade deals.
In recent years, the Liberals have signed agreements with specific clauses for small businesses, for those owned by women and minorities and for the preservation of the environment.
Human Rights Watch criticized the Modi government for “a serious regression in human rights and constitutional protections,” leading the New Democratic Party to urge the liberals to limit their involvement in G20 events.
India has long argued that Canada is not doing enough to expose some Sikh separatists who have worshiped people convicted of terrorism.